Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Just kidding."

Don't you hate having to say that? You crack a joke and can tell immediately that folks to whom you're talking aren't sure if you're serious or not, and then you have to decide, is it okay if they don't know, or should I let them know because they're my co-workers/supervisors/employees/in-laws, and it could cause unwarranted concern or criticism and possibly be reflected on my annual review/examination? So you say, "Just kidding," and you're really bummed out because the joke lost 75% of its beauty by having to be qualified.

What's even more annoying, however -- and this happens at work frequently -- is people being afraid to laugh at a joke because, well, we're in a meeting and people shouldn't say jokes in a meeting. Come on, that's when the best jokes are told -- when they're not supposed to be told! If I may take a moment to indulge in unbridled self-admiration, I'm quite brilliant at dropping jokes when they're least expected. And by jokes, I don't mean set-up punchline jokes. I mean dry wit delivered as if I'm serious.

Just today I was in a management session about interviewing legalities, and the presenter made a comment something to the effect of, "If someone is interviewing for a position at our agency and you happen to know that s/he beat the crap out of a former co-worker, it is perfectly legal for you to bring that to HR's attention." I raised my hand and asked, "What if you know for a fact that the person who was beat up deserved it?" Straight-faced as can be, because I'm that good, but come on, who thinks that's a serious question? Everyone in the room, apparently, because it was quiet. "Just kidding," I said. Dammit! Come on, people! Embrace the funny! Don't make me qualify my jokes!

Truth is, I usually don't. I love it when people don't know if I'm serious or not. Keeps them guessing and me in a position of power. But sometimes I gotta think about the bigger picture, and aw hell, I gotta attach the "just kidding."

On a completely unrelated note, it's quite the blustery day here in Denver. The wind is blowing so hard, children are rolling like tumbleweeds across the street.

Just kidding.

Come on!

22 comments:

Paula said...

We don't joke here at The Firm. Real estate should be taken seriously. And lawyers in Hawaiian shirts are no laughing matter either.

Ooh, your pulldowns are gone!

Joe the Troll said...

There's never a doubt when I make a joke, because I honk my bike horn twice and squirt seltzer in your face.

gekko said...

Gotta consider the audience. Peeps in my meetings know, by now, that if I am speaking, there's a solid chance I'm saying something intended to be funny. Unless I get that really hard, pushy edge to my voice, then they know I'm just being bitchy.

Nobody said...

I also hate the just kidding, but I rarely end up there, because usually I crack up about halfway through my own joke.

My husband, OTOH, is unbelievably dry, and almost always wears the same dour expression on his face. It takes a really, really long time before you can tell when he's being funny and when he's just being an asshole. Boy did we all hate him when he started at my company. I'm not saying your coworkers hate you. Necessarily.

Just kidding!

PJ said...

Jeff seems to be forgetting that he's a PROFESSIONAL actor, which means he does the quintessential deadpan, which means he's so good at it you can't believe it, which means it is impossible to know when he's kidding or serious.

Well, I know when he is because I have the inside scoop to his psyche, but others don't because he's such a good fooler.

Looney said...

Yeah, I don't deliver my lines dryly enough, so there's rarely any doubt...

Oh well, better stick to writing the jokes rather than telling them :-)

Jeff K said...

Paula, my pulldowns were behaving badly, so I sent them to their rooms for a spell. You like them better than the list?

Sour Grapes said...

Jeff, you bring up an important and valuable issue. It's given me much food for thought, and I'd like to ... no use, I can't pull off the delivery.

Paula said...

I like the list.

Jeff K said...

SG, in all seriosity, you have very impressive written delivery. I don't know if you can pull it off in person, but on the screen you often catch me offguard and give me a chuckle. You're no Archer, mind you, but you're pretty damn up there, dude.

Paula, I'm glad, because I like the list too!

Don said...

I liked the pulldowns. Lists are too convenient.

Just kidding.

Man, I suck at this.

Honk honk?

Natsthename said...

I really like this plain template...Just Kidding!

I think Imus doesn't owe anyone an apology...Just kidding!

It's gonna snow here later this week. I wish I was just kidding!

(I know what you mean, but I hate the caveat of "just kidding" when you KNOW the person is not really kidding, but using it as an out.)

Heath who dislikes 3 columns said...

I cracked up laughing just reading it :-)

btw: the three column layout in your blog is annoying as all get out :-)

Lucyp said...

Even worse is when someone tells you a joke just before a meeting and ten minutes later you think of it again and laugh or smirk to yourself.
Usually just as someone is being rollocked for something.

O' Tim said...

I would've used my Kos-like dryness to ask of the presenter, "Could you qualify former co-worker? I mean, does HR differentiate between felon and fugitive?"

"The wind is blowing so hard, children are rolling like tumbleweeds across the street.
"

"Sweetie, let's get you an extra jacket. And where's your bike helmet?"

Mark said...

"The wind is blowing so hard"

That reminds me...I saw your girlfriend the other day.

Just kidding...

Cheezy said...

I'm felt an almost painful shock of recognition when I read this post, Jeff. I consistently put my foot in it with humourless people but, in contrast, rarely have the good sense to put it right with a quick 'just kidding'...

Here's an example from one of my previous workplaces, after a former worker had brought her new baby in for us to meet...

ME: What an attractive baby, huh? It's always a relief when you meet someone's baby and it's not ugly, because then you don't have to lie about it.

OLD HAG I USED TO WORK WITH: Well, I think that every mother thinks that her baby is beautiful!

ME: Yes, I'm sure they all think. that. But some of them are wrong.

A swift "just kidding" would have been very useful at that point...

Schadenfreude said...

I prefer the more urban "just jokes" when dealing with the unwashed humorless. But I'm nappy-headed, so I'm allowed.

Jeff K said...

But Cheezy, you weren't kidding. What you said was absolutely true!

Webmiztris said...

it's all because people are so friggin uptight! *I* would have laughed, jeff. :)

Jeff K said...

If only you were in my meetings, Dawn!

Cheezy said...

"But Cheezy, you weren't kidding. What you said was absolutely true!"

Indeed, Jeff... and they say that 'the truth shall set you free'... but it can also get you into a shitload of trouble! :-o